Sunday, 27 July 2008

Make It Up, and Make It Happen

I'm listening to David Allen's seminar, Getting Things Done — Fast. It's fairly easy listening for such a densely-packed body of work. I've been dipping my toe into the GTD world for a year or two, but (as with most methodologies) it requires a lifestyle change to actually work. Lifestyle changes usually only happen at points of forced reflection, which sound a lot like, oh shit, how I'm handling this just isn't working at all. My new job right now is like drinking from the firehose, so it's time to get serious about GTD.

One thing Allen said stuck with me today, because it also came up in Tony Robbins' tapes (yes, when I listened to it people still used cassettes). It was this:
There are only two problems.
1) Not knowing what you want.
2) Knowing what you want, but not knowing how to get it.
Aimless drifting is incredibly easy when you have no goals, or dreams, or rabid yearnings. Some people find their goals early and easily, while others—like me—almost need a vision quest to find lasting value in any particular endeavour. What I've found is that action begets action, so while I'm engaged in things I like doing, new things pop up, or old things in a new light. I've long considered Benjamin Franklin the most grindingly dull of dead American Puritans, but his lines were bourne of a life of activity: "The man who is waiting for something to turn up should start with his shirtsleeves."
Frustrated, blunted ambition is often a result of not connecting point (A) where I am, with (B) where I want to be. It's like coming to a river and being so overwhelmed by the volume of water that I never start looking for stepping stones.

The putative solution to the twin problems was,"make it up, and make it happen." Allen expands: You're It. Anything that goes on in your world, from the pile of paperwork on your desk to the half-forgotten promises to do something you never really felt like doing, is Yours. Get in the driver's seat, because no-one is going to present you with a laundry list of values for your life, or plans to manage the next 24 hours, and you wouldn't take it if they did.

I've begun to see more and more that life is in action, and values, ethics, themes, and desires are not causes, but effects; the heady aroma that rises from a busy life. They come from a deep place and ooze out only through activity, revealing to yourself and to the world who you really are.

We enjoy ourselves only in our work, our doing; and our best doing is our best enjoyment.
— Hermann Jacobi

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